Michaela and Jessica Murdock Dillard Jenson Interview About Lackamas School – June 2003

Michaela and Jessica Murdock  Dillard Jenson Interview About Lackamas School – June 2003

Jessica: How long was your school year? I know that it’s 180 now, but there must have been more time off?

Dillard: We started right after Labor Day and we always got out the last of May. Usually around May 29. Yeah, because I don’t think we had any spring vacation. But, yeah, we always got out the last of May.

J: Was there a lot of farming kids out here?

D: Oh yeah! All farming kids. We all farmed. That’s all there was, was farm kids.

J: What kind of farms did you guys have? Was is mostly cows?

D: Cows! Everybody had a little farm, everybody had a couple cows. Everything was on a small scale.

*Rustling…conversation lost…

J: How did you guys get to school? How far usually was the range?

D: By a homemade school bus. It had benches along the side. Was an old… just an old regular pickup. Old wooden back. And uh then… up the Peisner road here. Whoever lived up there Mr. Peizner had an old car and then he’d deliver them. And then up above Clear Wood, which is Clear Wood now, up on Johnson road, there was another old gentleman up there and he had a big old car and he used it for a bus. And that’s how everybody was transported.

J: So…do you know how large the range was from where kids were coming from?

*Rustling…conversation muddled…

D: The range… oh well the range didn’t reach out all that far. Probably… twenty miles. But  what happened is the Yelm School District- now we’re going way back- the Yelm School District the valuation at that time was $500,000. That’s all there was. This one here was $550,000 cause we had Weyerhaeuser, which added more valuation. Well Yelm couldn’t get by without reorganizing and adding this school. So that’s what they done and we were always promised a school, but when the ink dried they took the school away from us. So now we’re getting it back. (Laughs)

J: So what years did you go to school here?

D: I went here first through sixth. Then everybody after the sixth grade went on to Yelm.

J: So that was in 19…?

D: It closed down in 1947.

J: So 1941?

D: I started in ‘40.

M: So you went right until the end?

D: Yeah, I went just about to the end. I think it ran maybe one year after I left.

J: What was the attitude toward school back then? Did the parents think it was very important?

D: Very important. You want to remember everything was entirely different. We had one teacher. No superintendent, no principal, no janitor, no nothing. One teacher ran this school. And every Friday we would put a list up on the board and two boys would feed the wood furnace for the following week. Two boys would take care of their restroom. Two girls would take care of theirs. The teacher always cooked the noon lunch. And she’d have two girls, their names would be on the list, they’d help cook the lunch for that week, but they only cooked lunch for four days a week and every Friday one of the mothers would bring us something special for lunch. And that’s the way it worked. And then about fifteen minutes before school was out every day we’d have to clean up our room, so it was ready for the next morning. And then once a week we’d go out and clean up all the school grounds and clean everything up. And then of course one person had to put the flag up and take it down every day.

J: I think that is so cool. I think that teaches you so much more responsibility.

D: But like I said I wasn’t the best student. When I went to Yelm I sat there for two years, because it was a complete review I’d already had. So I wasted two years. Well… I mean I didn’t waste it, but I’d already had it. Because when you’ve got six grades in one room and you’re in first grade, it’s just like computers today, you store everything, well you store the same in your mind and so when you get to the second grade you’ve already heard those kids recite their lesson- they recited everything back in those days. So it’s already stored in there, right on up through the six grades. When you get there it’s just a review for you. It’s a wonderful to learn. I’d like to see them teaching kids that way again.

J: You probably get a lot more one-on-one time too?

D: Oh sure! Well and another thing, you couldn’t get away with anything. You got bent over…(laughs)…that’s the way it was…there were no ifs, ands, or buts about it, and then when you got home you got some more.

M: So there was definitely some corporal punishment.

D: Well it was…but they’re going to have to go back to a little bit of discipline today, because it’s not working. It’s not working. We all…I don’t care who you are, we all try to get away with as much as we can…everybody does that. So, I say we need a little bit more discipline. But that’s maybe coming from an old-timer‘s mouth.

J: I think that’s interesting to see like, what was breaking the rules, though, and what was looked over, and what was totally not acceptable to do. I think you could push yourself a lot further now, and I was just wondering what was grounds for punishment?

D: Well you tried to push yourself, but you couldn’t, you didn’t get it done, because you got a good whipping or the paddle. And when I went to Yelm it was the same thing there… was a teacher, a principal by the name of Harry Southworth. And he had this nice little wooden board with holes in it and you got the same treatment there. They had control of you. You might try something, but it wasn’t going to work.

J: What kind of curriculum did you guys learn and what was your day?

D: You had your Math and your English, and just the basics… you know, lots of penmanship. Even though I don’t write every day, I still have lot’s of it… and health classes.

J: You said you had to recite a lot, what did you have to recite?

D: What did we have to recite? Well, in Reading and different things like that we probably read more than we had to recite, but we did have to get up and read to the class, stand up in front of the class…or even in Math, she’d make you get up and work your math out on the blackboard and everybody would watch you and see if you were doing it right. So, that’s where you learned from the class ahead of you, so when you got there it was pretty much review. Everything was done pretty much without teacher. She sat at the front of the room and she’d call you up and you’d work on the blackboard, because you wouldn’t want to mess up.

J: So you didn’t want to make any mistakes?

D: No you didn’t or you were in trouble.

J: So, it wasn’t a big deal having different grades in the same class?

D: No, it wasn’t.

J: And having to share the teacher?… When I was reading the Hart’s Lake School thing they said that they put the schedule for each grade up every day and that you just looked at it and knew what you were doing and you didn’t have any problems with that?

D: That’s exactly what it was…That’s exactly the way it was…yep…it was amazing. It probably wouldn’t work today…

[At this point in time Roger Schnepf and Brandon Brownell arrived at the school to take pictures. The Interview stopped for a short while, but the tape kept playing. Dillard insulted the boys and we all laughed. We talked a little bit…]

Michaela: What was the basement used for?

D: Oh we had a shop down there where we built, didn’t amount to much, but we built little things. As good as we could.

J: Did you guys use the gymnasium for physical education classes or just for fun?

D: We just had a basketball hoop, we played a lot of baseball.

M: Did you have any sports or clubs after school?

D: Everything we did…garbled

M: You did golf.

D: I never got in on the golf. That was before I started here… They had a little nine-hole course out there.

[Brandon interrupts to take a picture of Dillard]

J: Did you guys ever feel lonely or cut off from other people? [The Yelm of his youth]

D: Didn’t know the difference. Probably went to town once a week… something like that. Wolf’s department store, right there in the Drew Harvey Theater, that was the big place in Yelm back in those days. Everybody bought their groceries there, bought their clothes there, bought everything there. They sold everything. Cattle feed…*mumbling/garbled… And right there at Gorder’s Body Shop, that was Brown Brothers. And there was the John Deere dealership. And the Plymouth and Dodge car dealership. The original theater was over…the bowling alley, that was a theater… yeah, see that was the second one, the old one burned down. But, let’s see…the bank there on the corner, I can‘t remember the name, Timberland or something…then right next to it used to be D&H Mobile service station, so that’s an Apex grocery or something now. Say, right there was the original theater. Regular movie theater. It burnt down and then the built the one where the bowling alley is now. That was a movie theater and then the built one in Parkland and it burnt down…garbled…but they were identical theaters. They just built the theater floor up and put in the bowling alley. Try to think what else was in town. There were all kinds of things. Yelm was a pretty nice little town… But it was all basically right in that area. Across from the Drew Harvey Theater was a big meat market and right next to him was a restaurant and bar. And then, if I can remember, I was just a little kid, it was in ‘39 they had built a new highway from, they had finished it from Tenino, that was the main highway. And then they had a big get-together. I think that was around the first carnival they had. And right where the old fire station is, that was an old lot there at that time, just a narrow lot, but that’s where the first carnival was.

Robert Olson – Yelm H.S. Principal – Obituary

Robert Edward Olson  (Obituary)

Appeared: 2007-04-06  The Olympian

Robert Edward Olson, age 81, greeted the world from the top of a kitchen table on July 15, 1925 in Montborn, Washington. He said goodbye from the living room of his Tumwater home on April 3, 2007. He and his two older brothers were raised on the shores of Borrows Bay, where they learned to work hard, play hard, and value family. Bob graduated in 1944 from Anacortes High School, where he played year-round sports and starred on the State Tournament basketball teams. After a stint in the United States Navy, he enrolled in the University of Washington and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. During his time at the University of Washington, he found time to play basketball with the Buchan Bakers. His teaching career began at Neah Bay High School, where he soon became principal and coached championship football teams. In 1958, he was hired as the principal of Yelm High School, where he served for 20 years. He retired from the school district in 1980. Dad was a beloved father and keystone for three families. He owned a boat years before he purchased a car and spent thousands of happy hours fishing. He loved the anticipation between the first bump of a curious fish lured to his bait and the solid pull from a hook well-set. The extended Olson families and the Yelm community have lost a “good man”. Bob was preceded in death by his son, Mark Edward Olson, first wife, Frances Ruth Crumb Olson, and second wife, Barbara Whitcomb Olson. He is survived by his wife, Cathy Olson; his children, Janet Olson MacGregor, of Seattle, Robert J. Olson, of Olympia, and Robert M. Olson, of Lacey; and numerous stepchildren, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Remembrances may be made to Dollars for Scholars in the name of Robert E. Olson, to Yelm Community Schools, or to Trout Unlimited. No formal services will be held.

Four Inducted into new YHS Hall of Fame February 21, 2003

Four Inducted into new YHS Hall of Fame
By Jenna Loughlin

February 21, 2003  Nisqually Valley News

Yelm High School unveiled its new Hall of Fame with an induction ceremony during which three Yelm alumni were honored for their athletic ability along with one coach.

Dave Wolf, center for the state champion 1958 boys’ basketball team, Aaron Kalama, 1963-67 multi sport athlete and Patsy (Walker) Pointer, 1977 girls’ track state champion were all chosen to bet he first athletes selected for the Hall.  Bill Ward, also from the 1958 boys basketball team, was the first coach inducted.

“These people show us that nothing is impossible when everyone works together,” said the high school’s Athletic Director Ron Barnard.

Each inductee was given a plaque with their high school senior picture and a brief paragraph describing their achievement, a duplicate of which will be hung in the gym hallways by the boys’ and girls’ locker rooms.

Before the honorees themselves were handed the microphone, someone introduced them to the crowd.

For Ward, Wolf gave a description of what it was like to have him as a coach.

“He took a bunch of raw kids and turned us into champions,” Wolf said.  “He was maybe the most influential man in my life.”

Ward then talked about the season and what made the team so special.  “We had to win 17 straight games to get the title,” he said.

“These people would not quit.  They even snuck into the gym on weekends.  They were dedicated and they had a winning attitude.”

“This team was a winner all the way.  They were an incredible group to coach and it was my honor to do so.”

Next, a quite excited Bob Wolf came up. “I’ve waited so long to roast him,” Bob said of his younger brother Dave.

However, Bob was rather nice, describing what life was like in Yelm during the 1958 run along with the accomplishments of his brother.

“Yelm closed down,” during the 1968 playoffs, Bob said, adding that throughout the whole season, his parents store, Wolf’s Department Store, had a window dedicated to the team, posting its record and game scores.

He also mentioned Dave’s being named to the All-state team, his time spent at  Stanford and the University of Puget Sound on a law degree and most recently, the failing mill he purchased in Oregon that he has turned into a success.

“You’ve been a real inspiration to me,” Bob said.

“Thank you, Bob, I think,” Dave said after his brother’s speech.  Of the introduction itself, “I am proud to receive the award for our team,” Dave said. “Gary Beggs, Al Heath, Dennis Kinney, George Coulter, Mike Gould, Phil Peoples, George Hobart, Barrie Wilcox and John Stark.”

“Basketball is really a team sport.  You don’t get there by yourself.”

Dave joked that, even though it might seem like it has, not much has changed.

“I didn’t like running stairs then, I don’t like running stairs now.  I couldn’t pass behind my back then. I can’t pass behind my back now.  I couldn’t dunk then, and I can guarantee that I can’t duck now.  I was and still am very proud to say I am from Yelm. It’s a wonderful place to live and a wonderful community.”

Kalama’s mother, Zelma McCloud, accepted the award for her son who was tragically killed in a car accident two years after his graduation from high school in 1967.  Superintendent Alan Burke remembers Kalama’s reputation as the two were in high school at the same time, though in different districts.

“He was about as good as anybody around here,” Burke said. “He loved playing sports,” McCloud said. “It came to him naturally.” McCloud also said that Ward was probably one of Kalama’s favorite coaches.

“I am grateful for this honor and grateful for the school to remember him,” she said.

Wrestling coach Gaylord Strand spoke about Pointer, describing her as a “pioneer” since she was competing just as Title IX was being introduced and as a “female phenom.”

Strand listed off numerous records Pointer set, many of which are still standing, and wondered how much better they could have been if the track had not been made of cinder.

“She was something that was really great,” said Strand.

“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my community,” Pointed said, after which she got a little chocked up and teary eyed.

“She’s never at a loss for words at home,” joked her husband, Gary Pointer.

Patsy Pointer mentioned that her coaches taught her that, “In order to be great, you had to work hard, you had to be honest, you had to have integrity and couldn’t let your head get over you.”

“I was scared to lose,” Pointer said.

“I am very humbled,” she said, adding, “I miss being home.”

Inductees to YHS Hall of Fame
Inductees Receiving Their Award

Y.H.S. Girls’ League


Over the past month I have been reviewing a scrapbook from the Yelm High School Girls’ League in the 1950’s. Technically, every girl in the high school was a member of the Girls’ League much the same as students taking agriculture classes are considered members of the FFA. Since the club was so large, most of the decisions were made by the Girl’s League Council, elected officers that did much of the work in the club. The Girls’ League organized the Mother Daughter Banquet, the predecessor of the modem Mother- Daughter Tea. They also organized ‘Tornado Week” a combination between a homecoming spirit week and an organized freshmen initiation. The Girls’ League and the Girls’ League Council met to discuss these events as well as other issues faced by high school girls such as careers, college and dating, at school and at conferences with other area Girls’ Leagues.

The Girls’ League in some ways encouraged the advancement of women through ‘encouraging careers and leadership, but it was far from a radical feminist organization. The careers it encouraged were generally limited and much of the leadership and skills promoted were within traditional women’s spheres such as the home and the church and the family. To learn more about the Girls’ League and gender roles read here. The Girls’ League and the activities it sponsored were important parts of the culture of the high school and the town. The events, such as “Tornado Week” and the Mother- Daughter Banquet consisted of many elaborate traditions and were always well attended. To learn more about the role of the Girls’ League in the culture of Yelm and the high school click here. The Girls’ League and the girls of Yelm High School were very interested in anything involving boys and dating. The adult leaders of the Girls’ League often discouraged things such as long term relationships and public displays of affection. However students were encouraged to go to dances as couples and dance with members of the opposite sex. To learn more about discussions of dating in the Girls’ League click here.

Gender Roles

Many ways the Girls’ League encouraged traditional gender roles, but it also tried to advance the role of women.

The Girls’ League and the Home Economics classes prepared the food and decorations for the Mother- Daughter Banquet. The banquet featured a “model show” in which the Home ec. Students showed off clothes they had made. Regional conferences included discussions of traditional female roles with topics such as “Learn to Live Attractively” and “Grooming.” The Mother Daughter Banquet once included a speech on “The Art of Being a Woman.” The Girls’ League was in charge of decorating the school for Christmas.

The Girls’ League did more than just encourage women to be polite, well dressed and useful in the home. It also encouraged the women to be self-sufficient, cultured and responsible. By having the girls prepare the food it made them directly responsible for the quality of the banquet and allowed them to save money. On a side note, while the girls prepared the food, the FFA boys served the girls and their mothers. Though the model show initially sounds rather superficial, it was really an opportunity for the girls to show off their skills in dressmaking. The Girls’ League also offered women numerous opportunities to show off skills they had attained. The banquet and the conferences featured numerous skits, pantomimes, dances and musical performances. The banquet and conferences featured speeches on women in school, the community and the church.

The banquet featured speeches on educational topics such as people’s travels to other countries, ‘The Early Days of Yelm” and speech impediments in children. Through, discussions, meetings and information sessions, the girl’s they also encouraged women to have careers, go to college, and hold leadership roles.

Though the Girls’ League encouraged the traditional separate role of women, having them cook, sew and decorate, it also promoted the role of women in careers, college and the community.

High School Culture

The Girls’ League and the events it organized were an important part of the culture of the high school and the town. These events, such as the Mother- Daughter Banquet and Tornado Week consisted of many elaborate traditions and were well attended.

The Mother Daughter Banquet, now the Mother Daughter Tea was open to all the girls, not just seniors. Every year it featured a guest speaker, a number of entertainers, such as dancers and singers, a fashion show and ended with the installation of the next year’s Girls’ League Council. In the Early 1950’s about 160 mothers and daughters attended the banquet. The banquet was such an important event that the girls and their mothers bought corsages (from the school) for the evening. In the middle of the decade it was proposed to change the banquet to a tea as a change from the usual and because they were having a hard time borrowing enough dishes. However this did not happen because many girls complained that the banquet was one of the few chances their mothers had to go out to dinner.

Another important event organized by the Girls’ League was the “Tornado Week” every autumn. Tornado week began on Monday with a girls’ Spirit Week. The week included spirit days like “shoeshine day” where freshmen girls would shine shoes for a few cents that would be donated to the Girls’ League, “Blue Monday” where everyone wore blue, “Little Girl Day” when freshmen were dressed like children, and “Housewife Day.” The freshmen girls were “adopted” during the week by older girls. At the end of the week the upperclassmen dressed their “little sisters” in costumes which were displayed in a special assembly on Friday. In the assembly the freshmen and their upperclassmen were given awards for originality and humor.

There was also a football game on the Friday of Tornado Week. Unlike Homecoming Week, Tornado Week was not centered on a particular football game; it was simply about initiating the freshmen and having school spirit. In fact one year there wasn’t a football game scheduled during the week the event was to be held so the junior girls played the senior girls in a football game.

Yelm High School’s ‘Tornado Week” concluded with the Girls’ League Tolo- a large girl-ask-boy dance. In the mid. 1950’s between 88 and 120 people attended the dance (out of about a student body of about 250). Students were encouraged to go to the dance as couples with single tickets selling for 25 cents and couple tickets selling for 35 cents. The dance featured recorded music provided by the Girls’ League Record Committee and activities like one where all the girls pop balloons with boys’ names in them and dancing with the boy whose name was in the balloon.

The Yelm High School Girls’ League and the events it sponsored were important parts of the culture of the high school and the town. The events were well attended and very popular and consisted of many elaborate traditions.


The Girls’ League and the girls of Yelm High School were very interested in anything involving boys and dating. The adult leaders of the Girl’s League often discouraged things such as long term relationships and public displays of affection. However students were encouraged to go to dances as couples and dance with members of the opposite sex.

Almost every Southwest Washington Girls’ League conferences included discussion of dating. At the conference in Randal there was a discussion group called “Learn to Live Spiritually” included discussion of marriage. At the same conference “Learn to Live Socially” included talk of dating and “Learn to Live understandingly” which was supposed to discuss other cultures became a discussion of dating.

The 1954 conference featured a speech entitled, “You in Society.” The woman who gave the speech discussed appropriate dating behavior and whether blind dating was a good idea. She also discussed “going steady” and warned that it could distract girls from their studies and their other school activities.

The Yelm Girls’ League also had their own discussions of dating. At one meeting the girls discussed the fact that many girls were getting married while still in high school, and one girl remarked that “Marriage is a fad.” Another meeting included a discussion of behavior among couples in the halls, in study hall and in school activities. The girls eventually concluded that while there was a problem with couples kissing on the dance floor the behavior of couples wasn’t out of hand. An adult leader responded to the girls’ conclusion by stating that couples could show their affection for each other without “carrying on.” The meeting ended with a skit demonstrating the approved and disapproved behavior.

While the girls were often discouraged from certain activities, they were encouraged to go to dances as couples and to dance with members of the opposite sex. Tickets to dances were cheaper (per person) for a couple than for singles and dances included activities involving dancing with members of the opposite sex.

Katie Fagerlund

Harry Southworth

By Alex Carter

Harry August Southworth was a major Yelm community leader and World War Two veteran.  He attended college at Pacific Lutheran University and South Puget Sound University.  Before settling in Yelm though, Harry was a teacher for the Collins School in Evergreen Valley and in close relation to his mother’s Freedom Homemaker’s club.  Through the club Harry gathered support and donations for the Collins School.  After the Collins school was taken over by the Yelm school system, Harry began teaching at Yelm and becoming a community leader there.  He organized a group of boy scouts and taught them many lessons and skills to use.

Harry was also a part time little league coach and possessed an immense fervor for the playing sports.  He also became a member of the Yelm Lion’s Club, Yelm Masonic Lodge, and the American Legion in Yelm.  Harry was very blessed with his oratory skills and would at times be called upon by the Lion’s Club to make speeches.  He was also a member of the Volunteer Fire Department and town basketball team organized by the teachers.  Just like his father, Harry was also an avid Methodist and member of the Yelm United Methodist Church.

Just as Harry’s positive influence began spread throughout the community in almost every possible vein, he entered the war effort on February, 4, 1944 and joined the Navy.  When Harry left for training in Tucson, Arizona his wife accompanied him as far as Spokane before leaving him.  Harry completed basic training on April 12 and afterwards went home on short leave.  On June 15 Harry started his training of enlisted men at the San Diego Armed Guard School.  After serving in the Navy and completing his duty to his country, Harry went home to be with his kids and further pursue his teaching career.  He was a leader for the children and a person that most everyone in town looked up to and respected.  His aid to the community was established in almost every venue from seeing children who needed prescription glasses to disciplining troublesome students.

Later on Harry became the school principal and after several successful years returned to teaching for about 5 years before retiring.  Even after retirement Harry continued his positive influence on the community and joined the Retired Teacher’s Association before taking time out to travel and be with his family.  Harry died shortly on March 30, 1978.  He is succeeded by his vast family and further memorialized by the creation of Southworth Elementary School.  Harry’s death made a gaping hole in the lifeline of the community, but the important thing is that he lived a full and wonderful life serving his community and the people he loved.

1950 – Re-Evaluating Teacher Ethics

Teachers Ask Code Revision

Daily Olympian 11-7-50

Washington – The teaching profession’s 21-year-old code of ethics-straitlaced and stern-is being revised.

The National Education Association said today a survey indicates that most educators, for example, want omitted from the code as unimportant such listings of “unethical” conduct as:

1.  “To be careless of one’s personal appearance.”

2.  “To engage in a practice of recreation, dress, etc., of which the community does not approve, even though such practices are not immoral or in bad taste.”

3.  “To solicit sample textbooks.”

4.  “To accept gifts form pupils.”

The Association of Teachers and School Officials adopted the code in 1929, on the basis of a nationwide teacher poll of the previous year.

With a view to modernizing the code, an association committee on professional ethics, headed be Grace Campbell, Spokane, Washington, teacher, again has polled some 1,300 educators.

The committee said in its report educators voted as the “most unethical” practice-and so to be listed again in the new code-the dismissal of a teacher, or a recommendation for dismissal without ample notice or an opportunity to be heard.

Second most unethical:  The practice of a school official failing to recommend one of his teachers for a position in another community because he does not want to lose the teacher’s service.

And third:  Showing favoritism.